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Tag Archives: Moral Debates on Prostitution

This article examines efforts to order Times Square during the first five decades of its existence as a high profile commercial centre. Between 1892 and 1954, New York City powerholders launched a number of clean up campaigns that sought to minimize the working class attributes of the district and to transform it into a mainstream consumption space. These campaigns targeted commercial sex, gay nightclubs, burlesque theatres, street vendors, ‘disorderly’ people, and honky tonks. The strategies used to order Times Square included exclusionary zoning, moral campaigns and restrictive licensing, as well as the enforcement of curfews, building codes, anti-loitering legislation, and indecency statutes. Despite these efforts, the working class character of Times Square persisted, even though the operation of many working class establishments was disrupted and the freedom of ordinary people to frequent the district was compromised.
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Pendleton, Kimberly. 2017. „The other sex industry: narratives of feminism and freedom in evangelical discourses of human trafficking“. New Formations 91 (91): 102–15. https://doi.org/10.3898/NEWF:91.06.2017.
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This paper explores the role that narratives of ‘sex trafficking’ play within evangelical Christian conceptions of sex, gender, and global engagement. It examines evangelical cultural products that link sex work, pornography consumption, and forced prostitution, all of which constitute a site through which gender norms are negotiated. Primarily, this paper argues that masculinity itself is imagined to be the central victim within the evangelical fight against sex trafficking. Additionally, this paper argues that the language of this fight, particularly its emphasis on the ways that men harm women, is embedded within feminist rhetoric and logic, even when utilising them to anti-feminist ends. Finally, this paper demonstrates that the parameters of evangelical interest in the sex industry, and the focus on masculinity in crisis, in particular, are imbued with racial imagery that creates a dichotomy between the foreign, dangerous, and dark space, where men are tempted and a safe, white domesticity to which properly restored patriarchy promises to return them.
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The practice of race defilement in Hungary began following the passage of the 1941 Marriage Law, a comprehensive law on marriage that introduced mandatory premarital health checks, marriage loans and the prohibition of marriage between Jews and non-Jews. In contrast with Nazi Germany, in Hungary non-Jewish men were exempted from the provisions of the law, so only Jewish men could be convicted and only if they had a liaison with “honorable” women. The vague non-legal term “honorable” provided the authorities with the opportunity to limit sexual and other contact between “Jews” and “non-Jews” and also to exert control over female bodies through policing and surveillance, as female “honor” was in most cases crucial in order to determine the course of the proceedings. This paper uses the theoretical framework of the history of emotions to reconstruct the types of “honor” that come to light from an analysis of the papers of these court cases and their importance for sexual politics in Horthy-era Hungary.

Siobhán Hearne (2017) Sex on the Front: Prostitution and Venereal
Disease in Russia’s First World War, Revolutionary Russia, 30:1, 102-122, DOI:
10.1080/09546545.2017.1317093

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Prostitution flourished during Russia’s First World War. Mass mobilisation and the displacement of millions of the empire’s population challenged the tsarist state’s ability to control both the movement and bodies of those buying and selling sex. In light of this, military and medical authorities shifted their attention more directly onto regulating men’s bodies. Wartime social turmoil also increased the visibility of prostitution, which saw many enlisted men lament the apparent ‘moral decline’ that they witnessed on the front. This article examines how the tsarist authorities grappled to control the bodies of its populace on Russia’s western front, and how the conflict had an impact upon ideas of morality and sexuality.

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This article analyzes celebrities’ norm entrepreneurship through a specific instance of its enactment: Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore’s media campaign against human trafficking (the K&M Campaign). Drawing from literatures about celebrities and politics and norm entrepreneurship, and using qualitative-interpretive methods of data collection and analysis, I show how the K&M Campaign provides an early, high-profile example of this norm entrepreneurship that demonstrates why and how celebrities communicate norms to the broader public. To illustrate, I show how changing political-economic conditions have facilitated celebrities’ ascendance in the polity, and I argue that Kutcher and Moore have emerged under these conditions to actively oppose human trafficking. Using their considerable resources, they have promoted an “individual responsibility” norm that instructs the public to avoid coercive sexual and labor activities and trafficking situations. I then argue further that the K&M Campaign provides broader lessons about norms’ fluidity: even when they are seemingly incontrovertible and their entrepreneurial proponents (celebrities) have extensive resources, norms may be contradicted and contentious nonetheless. In this case, by promoting an individual responsibility norm, Kutcher and Moore inadvertently conveyed retrograde gender norms and minimized the importance of broader structural solutions to human trafficking.

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The Amsterdam Red-Light district is a globalised mass-entertainment place for sex consumption. But the visitors touring the Red-Light district are far more diverse than sex tourists: men, women, gay, straight, stag or cultural tourists tour this place to feel the thrill of desire and disgust. The paper documents this process of commodification by these visitors, engaging with their lived experiences through ethnographic research and in-depth interviews. The paper shows the diversity of the consumption practices and representations of the spectacle of commodified sex, explaining how the emotions experienced by those touring the sex district draw on intersectional belongings (gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity). Intertwining affective and moral geographies, it concludes by arguing that the symbolic consumption of the Red-Light district cannot necessarily be predicted by virtue of standard categories of belonging, with identity formation and the consumption of sex being shaped by a complex dynamic of looks and gazes.

Hynson, Rachel. “Count, Capture, and Reeducate”: The Campaign to Rehabilitate Cuba’s Female Sex Workers, 1959–1966, in: Journal of the History of Sexuality 24, 1, January 2015
pp. 125-153

In 1964 Cuba’s fledgling movie industry collaborated with Soviet filmmakers to create Soy Cuba (I am Cuba), a dizzying expressionist tale of four Cubans whose problems were ameliorated by the revolution. One vignette features María, a young prostitute abandoned by her boyfriend after he finds her entertaining a US businessman.1 The film insinuates that sex workers, once victims of US imperialism and capitalism, were rescued and reeducated by the government campaign against prostitution.2 However, Soy Cuba received a cool reception on the island. Moviegoers and critics rejected the dream-like aesthetic of the film and demanded more “realistic” depictions of their revolution.3 This perceived disconnect between cinematic representation and revolutionary reality parallels the disjuncture between the official discourse on prostitution and the complex experiences of female sex workers in early revolutionary Cuba. [End Page 125]

The Cuban government and the standard historical accounts both describe the campaign to rehabilitate prostitutes as one of the great successes of the revolution, a monolithic movement that supposedly originated at the top and was implemented uniformly across the island.4 But this story obscures the lived experiences of state officials, provincial reformers, and sex workers who participated in a campaign that was complex, diverse, and conflictive. The campaign officially lasted from 1959 to 1965, during which time officials in the Department of Social Ills (Departamento de Lacras Sociales) at the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) decided policies, as did regional government officials and members of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs), and other state organizations. Policies to combat sex work were initiated in all of the country’s six provinces, and while some provincial reformers acted on their own initiative, efforts at reeducation (reeducación) ultimately complemented the rehabilitation efforts of high-level government agents.

This article examines the revolutionaries’ initial attempts to rehabilitate the island’s thirty to forty thousand sex workers, paying special attention to the rhetoric and strategies deployed by reformers outside of the capital city of Havana.5 It argues that members from groups such as the FMC and National Revolutionary Police (PNR) helped initiate the antiprostitution campaign, often operating without official interference until 1962, when federal officials assumed greater control over the campaign and when penal work farms became a tool of reform. During the first six years of the revolution, official discourse transitioned from viewing sex workers as victims to categorizing them as counterrevolutionaries. Key to this analysis are the methods used to identify prostitutes (prostitutas). Rather than seeking confirmation that women exchanged sex for money, reformers identified sex workers according to their attire, behavior, race, place of residence, and sexual partners. I also demonstrate that the revolutionary campaign adopted a broad and flexible definition of prostituta, one that allowed government officials to target the behavior of all Cuban women, not merely that of those who identified as sex workers.

Full article available here.